Photo llustration by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Researchers at Duo Security have developed an algorithm to hunt Twitter bots at Twitter-sized scale.

Why it matters: On a big social media platform, using humans to hunt automated scam accounts is a particularly difficult game of whack-a-mole. That is exactly the kind of problem Duo's algorithm can help solve. One of the moles it whacked during a testing was a large network of cryptocurrency scammers.

Researchers Olabode Anise and Jordan Wright will present that research later this week at the Black Hat cybersecurity conference. Twitter was responsive when Duo's reported bots, they said.

The big picture: The sheer scope of the bot problem makes it difficult to fight — just ask Elon Musk, who had so many bots using his name to promote cryptocurrency scams that Twitter banned naming accounts after him.

  • The bots in question are unmanned accounts that automatically spew content onto Twitter.
  • Not all bots are malicious. Most aren't. "During testing, one of the things we discovered was a bot that posted song lyrics someone thought were interesting," Anise told Axios.
  • The algorithm does not separate good from evil, just human from machine. Real humans still need to make the final call.

How it works: Duo feeds publicly available data, like how quickly accounts reply to other accounts, screen names, the time of day of posting and data from profiles.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 33,867,247 — Total deaths: 1,012,341 — Total recoveries: 23,537,059Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 7,229,319 — Total deaths: 206,887 — Total recoveries: 2,840,688 — Total tests: 103,939,667Map.
  3. Education: School-aged children now make up 10% of all U.S COVID-19 cases.
  4. Health: The coronavirus' alarming impact on the body.
  5. Business: Real-time data show economy's rebound slowing but still going.
  6. Sports: Steelers-Titans NFL game delayed after coronavirus outbreak.
Ina Fried, author of Login
3 hours ago - Technology

Facebook removes Trump ads tying refugees to COVID-19

Photo Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook said Wednesday that it was removing a series of ads from President Trump's campaign that linked American acceptance of refugees with increased coronavirus risk, a connection Facebook says is without merit.

Why it matters: The ads were pulled after they received thousands of impressions and are a sign that the Trump campaign continues to test the limits of social media rules on false information.

Over 73 million people watched the first debate on TV

Data: Nielsen; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 73.1 million people watched the first presidential debate on television on Tuesday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

Why it matters: While that's a sizable audience for any American TV program, it's down more than 13% from the record number of TV viewers who tuned in for the first debate of the 2016 election. The chaotic nature of the debate and the overall uncertainty around this year's election may have pushed some viewers away.

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